Spec On The Job Blog


Rules of Driving Based on the Smith System

March 23 2015

CDL Driver Training and the Smith 5 Keys

As many of you know just because you have a CDL doesn’t automatically mean you are a good driver. The one program I constantly hear rave reviews about is the Smith System for CDL Driver Training (I don’t get paid anything to say this). I thought I would share the basics of one of there many highly regarded programs to use for yourself or pass on to your drivers.

The Smith System of Training is a program that was developed by Harold Smith in 1948. The Smith System Driver Improvement Institute was established in 1952 and provides training to companies with vehicle fleets, driving schools and government agencies.



The Smith System of driving is about reducing collisions, preventing injuries and saving lives.

The Smith 5 Keys employs five basic principles. Each principle is designed to reduce the risks involved in driving by teaching drivers to anticipate dangerous situations. By driving defensively, traffic-related injuries are reduced, even in adverse weather conditions. An important rule in defensive driving is anticipating other drivers’ errors, mistakes in judgment and/or carelessness.

The Smith System® is recognized as the industry leader in professional CDL driver training and hands-on vehicle safety education programs. More than 30,000 fleet drivers receive behind the wheel instructions each year.


The Smith 5 Keys

  • Aim high in steering® – Avoid collisions by seeing, evaluating and acting upon distant information.
  • Get the big picture® – Fewer mistakes are made when you have the complete traffic picture.
  • Keep your eyes moving® – Proper scanning techniques separate safe drivers from people who make costly errors.
  • Leave yourself an out® – Space isolates you from trouble.
  • Make sure you are seen® – Obtaining eye contact from those who are unaware helps to prevent traffic conflict.


Below is a link to a free handout with details on each rule of the Smith System. Use it as a quick reference for you and your company drivers.

View the Smith System Handout

Source: Drive Different







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“Helping our clients get jobs done since 1998.”